By Andrew Andrews
- Setting: The original Russian story takes place in about the time and place where it was written in the late 1800’s; this modern tale seems to take place around today, with land-line telephones and an early mention of the Internet.
- Gender: In case you haven’t already noticed, two of the original brothers have been replaced by sisters.
- Length: While the first English translation reaches almost a thousand pages, this production thankfully clocks in at less than two hours. Many of the subplots from the
original—and indeed, many of its characters—have been eliminated or are only briefly mentioned. Theodore himself is only voiced through a hand-held microphone—typically by Liz, who serves as the story’s narrator.
- Philosophy: Whereas Dostoevsky used his story as a sounding board for heavy philosophical and theological discussion, such themes are only interjected into this tale, where they typically feel extraneous to the story.
- Delivery: The Brothers is considered one of the greatest achievements in classical literature, but this production is highly experimental, combining scripted text with choreographed movement that feels disappointingly stiff, and both live and prerecorded video that only detracts from the performance instead of adding value.
Although the quality of the scenic elements is quite high for a show at this price point, I felt it suffers from the common problem of including too many experimental features at the expense of the aesthetic of the whole.
While the modernization of the story itself is nicely done, it feels better suited for a traditional presentation; and though the voice of Theodore could still be delivered from off-stage for dramatic effect, I’d use another actor who’s not already part of the cast.
Andrew Andrews attended The Karamazovs at New Ohio Theatre in New York on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 @ 7:30pm to write this review.